By Fatoumata Joof
Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) in partnership with the EU trained 40 lawyers of the Bar on international standards and legal instruments to fight impunity for enforced disappearances including extrajudicial killings in The Gambia.
The executive director of the Institute, Gaye Sowe, said The Gambia has faced serious human rights violations during the dictatorship of the former government.
“As the country is going through a transitional phrase, it is important to train lawyers on extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances to enhance the capacity of lawyers on the existing legal framework locally, regionally and internationally, to contribute to the fight against impunity and increase access to justice for victims,” he noted.
He explained that IHRDA intends to carry out a research to understand issues and get to know victims of violations.
“This project will last for the next two years. As a result of the time frame of the project we intend to document ten cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance…”
He said after the documentation is done, the IHRDA will send a copy of the report to the UN working group on enforced disappearances and to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.
“This is for collaborative efforts in the fight against enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings, to make sure that whenever they occur in The Gambia, they are properly dealt with.
He thanked the EU for supporting the idea.
EU delegate Enya Braun said the project has an international scope and explained that The Gambia was selected because of her “incredible transition” to a democracy. “You are going through an exceptional time in The Gambia and the EU is keen to support this transition as The Gambia is high on the priority list,” she said.
The president of the Gambia Bar Association, Mr Salieu Taal, reiterated the importance of the project. He said as the country moves to building the ‘New Gambia’ and a new constitution, coupled with hearings at the TRRC, it is important lawyers play their roles in ensuring we have capacities, knowledge and the know-how to ensure impunity does not reign again in the country.
“This workshop will enhance our knowledge on regional and international laws, instruments and avenues to ensure that lawyers can hold those responsible for these crimes,” he said.
Bunja Dabo, a participant, said the workshop will enhance his knowledge on local, regional and international instruments and he can can rely on these to combat impunity.
“The Gambia is a country that has experienced violations of human rights for the 22 years under the former regime. This prompted the IHRDA, an organisation that was set in 1998 with a goal to strengthen human rights within Africa to partner with the EU to set up this project which aims to build the capacities of all the persons relevant in making sure that the fight against impunity for enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings is attained in The Gambia,” he stated.